About 6 weeks ago my seven year old son had COVID. I woke at 2 am in the morning to the words “I cannot breathe”, “I cannot breathe”, I cannot breathe”. Racing to my son’s bed I smacked his back to help clear the flem which was preventing him breathing. The flem cleared and he began to throw up. He was sweating.
Marriage calls us out of ourselves. We are called to love another person more than what we love ourselves. But Hollywood, Social Media and our own egos at times do not do justice to what marriage truly is. For Catholics and many Christians marriage is a sacrament. But, I want you to think of sacrament not as a “noun”, but as a “verb”. Marriage is a doing word. Marriage makes holy the day to day activities of life. God is more fully revealed in marriage.
Marriage is one of the greatest formation tools which exist. Through marriage, we are called to sacrifice ourselves. To open ourselves so much that we let go of self, and allow growth to emerge. But, the traditional roles of men as workers or providers, and women as house wives, prevent us from seeing what marriage calls us towards more fully. At the deepest level, marriage is about sharing. Sharing our entire lives. To cook. To clean. To tidy. To work. To form our children. To share everything. This degree of sharing calls us to change. To change ourselves, so in order to change the world. But we must be careful. In order to truly love the other to be other. Sometimes a degree of tough love is needed. Where we hold firm to our values and ego. You see the other is called to do the same. To sacrifice themselves. If one party is always giving, whilst, the other is always receiving, this cannot work. There must be a mutual exchange. A willingness by both parties to be open to the opportunity to grow at different times or to grow together. This can be painful. One party may not be willing to undergo the deeper sense of growth. Sometimes we need counselling or good friends who can both challenge us and see things objectively due to our blocks we have formed in our relationships. We create scripts or reasons why reality is to be twisted to what we want, rather than, what truly is.
Pain, suffering and challenges are not threats or problems, but rather opportunities for growth in our marriage. We grow deeply through the other when we begin to choose to live our lives through the moment to moment actions that marriage brings. Thus, joy emerges when we journey through the pain and challenge and not run away from it. Do we lean into our vulnerabilities? Only when we undertake a deeper sense of sharing, can a deeper sense of who we are is born. Marriage is a verb rather like wrestling.
I think God laughs when couples say, “will you marry me”?